Ferocious at 40: Senator Pacquiao breaks Keith Thurman’s undefeated streak. What’s next?

Manny Pacquiao knocked down Keith Thurman in the first round.
Manny Pacquiao knocked down Keith Thurman in the first round.
Nitish Kapur

In the deafening chants of “Manny, Manny” the electrifying crowd at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas witnessed the legendary Emmanuel ‘PacMan’ Pacquiao defeat Keith Thurman.

With this victory, Pacquiao not only conquered Thurman’s WBA Super Championship but also conquered his undefeated streak.

Pacquiao, whose power and speed belied his age, is the only boxer in history to hold world titles in eight different divisions. As referee Kenny Bayless held up Pacquiao’s hand, he became the oldest Welterweight Champion in the history. Coming after his consecutive victories over Adrian Broner and Lucas Matthysse, it was not surprising to see Pacquiao obliterate Thurman, who is 10 years his junior.

‘The Pride of the Philippines' eased his way to a split decision victory to dethrone the longest-reigning Welterweight Champion. Keith Thurman, who had bet money on himself to knock out Pacquiao in the first, second, or seventh rounds, got knocked down himself in the very first round! It should be noted that, in his long illustrious career, Pacquiao has only once been defeated by knockout. In 2012, Juan Manuel Marquez had left him unconscious with a solid right hand to the face.

Thurman couldn’t offer any significant obstacles to the Senator of the Philippines except for some strong counter-attack in the 9th round. Two judges scored it 115-112 to Pacquiao and another gave it 114-113 to Thurman, who suffered his first defeat in 30 fights.

Thurman, who goes by the moniker of ‘One Time’ could not produce the one-time performance that was required to outpace the more experienced and lately more active opponent. Keith, who had vowed to "crucify" the profoundly devout Filipino and send him into retirement could not move as fast in the ring as his tongue had moved in the build-up to the fight. His trash talk backfired as it proved to only rile up the ageless wonder and helped to bring out the best in him.

Manny Pacquiao saw Saturday’s win as one of the best of his career. He said:

I think I can rank this with the Margarito fight, the De La Hoya fight, the Morales fights, the Marquez fights, the Barrera fights. You saw tonight what we did in the ring. My opponent was very tough and strong, also. It’s the first time I’ve encountered someone who was heavy-handed like Keith Thurman.

It was also delightful to see Keith Thurman accepting his defeat like a true sportsman and showing respect for his opponent. He said:

He was fast, he was strong. The short steps — everything that Manny Pacquiao always has been, he has a lot of it still left in him. I felt like I was gonna give him a pressing fight. Even though he knocked me down, I didn’t care, I wanted to be in his face. I felt like he was getting a little bit tired in the later rounds, but he does train hard. He trains hard. He kept his hands up. I wish I could’ve given him more. The rounds were flying by, and it is what it is. This is a sport. You gotta lock it in round-by-round, and the judges saw it their way, and he’s now the new champion. Congratulations to Manny Pacquiao.

Almost 25 years after the then 16-year-old Pacquiao stepped onto the weighing machine for his professional debut with stones in his pockets to reach the 47.6 kg minimum weight, now the 40-year-old legislature indicated that he still has a few more fights left in him. After Pacquiao claimed the 62nd win of his 71-fight professional career, he made it clear that this was not his last fight and that his next fight won’t be before 2020.

Manny Pacquiao v Keith Thurman
Manny Pacquiao v Keith Thurman

It remains to be seen who Pacquiao will choose to dance with him in the ring again but there are a couple of options for him. Welterweight champions Errol Spence Jr. and Shawn Porter are about to face each other in September in a title unification fight.

Two-time British champion Aamir Khan has also been pleading for a show-off with the Filipino Parliamentarian. But the battle that everybody wants to see is Manny Pacquiao versus the undefeated Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather. After a slew of victories, Pacquiao finds himself on the top again, and is without a doubt the most relevant boxer right now. A fight between the two, if it ever happens, could be the biggest fight in boxing history.

But with age catching up on both the legends it is highly unlikely that a rematch to their 2015 money-making bout will ever take place. Pretty Boy Floyd would not want to risk it all by facing this version of PacMan. Though, with Mayweather you never know; anything is possible if the money is right.

Edited by Sai Teja
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